Tuesday, 20 December 2016

New platform and cameras installed

After weeks of planning and preparation, there's now a brand new peregrine nest platform on Derby Cathedral's tower. A team of volunteers worked for eight hours yesterday to carefully remove the old nest platform and install a new one ready for next year's breeding season.
New peregrine platform ready to be installed

It was a near-perfect day for the job, given the time of year - no wind, dry and not too cold! The day started at 9am with the new platform being assembled from its component parts out on the nave roof. At 10am the rest of the helpers arrived to assist us with the hauling and we joined together for a walk-though of the day's activities and a talk-through of the risk assessment and safety practices we needed to follow.

Massive thanks are due to Nick Evans who made the new platform, to all the helpers (Tim, Pam, Derek and Ellie - mostly from Derby's Oread Mountaineering Club). Nick Moyes masterminded the operation and the installation of new cameras, whilst Nick Brown crawled around inside, feeding through cables and carrying materials up and down the spiral staircase more times than he cares to remember.

Preparing to abseil down to the platform.
Nick Evans even had some festive tinsel on his helmet!
An extra long rope and pulley system were used to haul up the new peregrine nest platform from below, making it an effortless task for the abseil team to fit the new one into position and begin the work of screwing it on. Just as with the Nick Evans' original - and initially very temporary platform - none of the cathedral's ancient stonework was drilled or damaged in any way during the installation process.

Pre-planning is always the key to a successful and safe installation event.

The old platform comes down, guided by ropes to prevent rotation and snagging.
Once the new nest platform was securely fixed on the east face of the tower, two of the existing cameras that had previously been removed and refurbished were set back into position. As well as this, two completely new ones were fitted on, too, so it was a good day's work all round. It was getting dark just as the final cable connections were being made, and the two Nick's eventually abseiled back down to the nave roof, aided by the cathedral's floodlights. An hour later we had cleared up all our climbing equipment, carried down the old platform components and hastily confirmed that at least two of the cameras were fully operational. A third was clearly present on the computer network but its IP address could not being accessed at that time, whilst a fourth camera could not be found on the network at all. However, this was resolved a couple of days later when an incomplete network cable connection was discovered. All equipment appears now to be functioning correctly.

Nick's Moyes and Evans do a platform selfie
as they hang by their ropes!

Attaching the new platform
Nicks Moyes and Evans fix the new
platform in place.
Nick Evans, festively attired, removing the hauling tapes

Please note that, despite all this work yesterday, we will not be able to get pictures from these cameras out to you for some time yet. It it now all depends on how quickly the City Council and Connect Derby can work together to reconfigure our network connections to get our video signals out to the internet. These have been down since changes were made in late November. We may then find we still need to readjust final camera positions, as yesterday we could could only set them roughly into position, with no opportunity to view the pictures as we did so. With nine months of building work due to start on the nave roof of Derby Cathedral on 3rd January (which will completely cover it in scaffolding and sheeting), we will probably have to accept that any final adjustments or problems we encounter can only be resolved next summer when the covering comes down.

More on all this later.......

Meanwhile, here's the view the peregrines get from the tower top looking east towards Nottingham.
With the addition of the cathedral's floodlighting, the scene is both bright and has many moving lights too from the traffic below. This is the backdrop against which the birds do their night time hunting.
At this time of year (and with the winter solstice only two days away now), the nights are very long and the days short. No wonder the peregrines take to some 'easy-to-see' floodlit preying!
Night time peregrine eye's view looking East
from the top of the tower. New Premier Inn on
right, river with reflections just behind with series of square
lights in the footbridge that runs over it
And as few more photos somewhat belatedly:
Looking south down Irongate towards
the Market Place.

Derek and Nick E coil up the ropes after the two abseils.
Dead (uneaten) redwing found in one of the lead
troughs where it had been cached by the birds. The remains
of a woodcock and another redwing were also found.

The Peregrine Project Team

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

All change

As you will have noticed, our cameras have been off-line since November. This was caused by changes at Derby City Council which now prevent us using their IT networks. However, moves are underway to have things up and running again for the 2017 season.

We recently abseiled down and removed all our cameras. An extreme step, you may think, but all part of plans to make good the wear and tear on our ten-year old nest platform. One of our old analogue cameras will  be disposed of completely, whilst two others have been cleaned inside and out, re-sprayed and made ready for re-installation. We recently acquired some new cameras which we are making ready for installation.

We have received a kind offer from a long-standing supporter, Ashley Sims, to meet the cost of this work, which we'll tell you more about once it's all completed.

We hope to have everything sorted out in the next four weeks or so, but this is dependant upon on having a good 'weather window' for abseiling and the ability to schedule in some major work with the help of Derby Mountain Rescue Team. We shall still need to get our cameras configured to new networks, which we're hoping will also happen quite soon.

Nick Moyes and Nick Evans prepare to abseil down
from the top of the tower on 2nd December.

It's been ten years since Nick Evans constructed the first nest platform for us back in 2006. We've been keeping a careful watch on it over the last few years, and eventually realised it had got into quite poor shape.  Our intention is to sort these problems out before the start of next breeding season, and  in advance of some major re-roofing work which is about to begin next January at the Cathedral.

We'll tell you more when we have positive news about the next stages, so for now it's a case of "watch this space!" rather than "watch those webcams!"

The Project Team

PS: if the guys from datazonedirect are reading this - you've sent us the wrong length cables this time, guys! It'd really help if you can get replacements to us in the next couple of days.